KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Virginia softball team (34-21) scored the lone run in the top of the fourth inning and held off Louisville’s seventh-inning threat to earn a 1-0 victory Friday in its NCAA Tournament debut.
Junior catcher Alison Pittman led off the fourth with a triple to the right centerfield gap and scored when the next batter, senior Abby Snyder, hit a groundball to Louisville second baseman Jordan Trimble. Trimble’s throw to home plate was on the mark but Pittman beat the tag to score what proved to be the game-winning run.
The Cavaliers move on to face the winner of the Ball State vs. Tennessee matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in Knoxville.
Freshman pitcher Melanie Mitchell tied the school record for wins in a season, picking up her 27th victory in her eighth complete game shutout of the 2010 campaign. Mitchell also moved into first place on the single season list for innings pitched, passing Michelle Collins (271 2/3 in 1994), with 274 2/3 innings of work this season.
Mitchell threw all seven innings, allowing four Louisville hits. She finished with six strikeouts.
With Virginia clinging to a one-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals were poised to make a comeback. Kristen Austin led off the stanza with a single up the middle and took second on teammate Vanessa James’ sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Melissa Roth, was walked for the third consecutive time to put runners on first and second with one out.
Mitchell did not rattle and came through for a big out after striking out pinch hitter Brittany York. With two down, Chelsea Bemis walked to load the bases. Mitchell then caught Colby Wherry’s lineout back to her to end the game.
Louisville (39-18) stranded 10 runners on base in the contest, compared to six for the Cavaliers.
U of L’s Tori Collins took the loss, tossing six innings and allowing one run on three hits. She finished with five strikeouts. Teammate Kristen Wadwell came on to pitch the sixth inning and gave up one hit, before Collins reentered to throw the seventh.
Virginia matched Louisville’s four hits, including a 2-for-3 performance at the plate from freshman Taylor Williams, who recorded UVa’s first NCAA hit with a single in the third inning. She later tripled with two outs in the seventh.
Senior Nicole Koren doubled in the sixth, in addition to Pittman’s triple in the fourth.